Ernie hasn’t worked hard enough

Tiger Woods believes Ernie Els could have returned to the winners circle a long time ago with a tougher rehabilitation programme.

Tiger Woods believes Ernie Els could have returned to the winners circle a long time ago with a tougher rehabilitation programme after major knee surgery in 2005.

Els is currently 20th in the World Rankings and without a win in 41 tournaments.

Woods is way out on his own at the top of the rankings and has won five tournaments since his come-back from knee surgery last year.

Woods and Els had similar anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) operations but Woods quite rightly believes his recovery has been much faster and more successful. He, in fact, believes he is approaching his best again.
He told the media this week: “I feel pretty good with what I’ve done, and I think Ernie could have worked a little bit harder.”

Speaking ahead of the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, the American added: “Ernie is not a big worker physically, and that’s one of the things you have to do with an ACL repair.

“But Ernie travels all around the world, more than any other golfer. He plays all over the place, and it’s harder for him.

“He is starting to put it together a little bit. We all know he’s got the talent, we’ve seen it. It’s just a matter of him getting the confidence in what he’s doing.”

In 2006, Els – who topped the World Rankings three times in 1997 and 1998 – spoke about a having three-year plan to grab the number one spot from Woods.

The triple major winner’s challenge failed miserably and instead of moving up the rankings from his place among the big four, his ranking plunged, and it is only in the past few months that he has finally produced some encouraging form again

He finished joint eighth at the Open at Turnberry in July and equal sixth at last month’s USPGA Championship at Hazeltine.

Then, this weekend passed, he got up to finish just one shot behind winner Heath Slocum at The Barclays, the opening event of the four-tournament FedEx Cup play-off series

The ‘Big Easy’ knows he is running out of time, He will be 40 on August 17 but is not ready to give up.

He told the BBC: “If I keep playing the way I did last week, maybe the three-year plan can be revived.

“I feel positive and feel my game is coming around so I just want to try and win.

“I got a win early last year and then I really didn’t hit form at all so it’s been an awkward couple of years.

“I don’t want to be struggling like I did. There’s no worse feeling than to play at a certain level and then drop off, knowing you can do a lot better.”

“I hit my low point at the US Open (in June),” Els said, looking back at his missed cut at Bethpage Black.

“I just want to get back to where I feel I should be, that’s top five in the world at least – and winning tournaments again.”